Note to Self:  Remember to Train

by Tom Kennedy

This is why you sign up for, and do the Spartan WOD.

It is with great sadness that I was not able to video the Spartan race as planned, because I figured out immediately that the first obstacle was a mud pit, that would undoubtedly ruin the camera.  So, instead, I am writing this play by play account of the adventure.

First, I will give you my personal Pros and Cons of the event:

I had entry money.

My age, my refusal to exercise, a few pounds more than optimum, a history of orthopedic issues, and a general poor attitude.

Sadly, the line blurs between reality and my memory, and I couldn’t quite remember how much I hated any sort of exercise, especially running.  Now I remember. I decided to enter the race six months ago, giving me plenty of time to get
in shape for the event.  I must have gotten side tracked, because I can’t really remember being involved in any sort of a program that would get me prepared.

I might be willing to admit that my friend’s, Teresa’s advice of “You should probably get back on the treadmill” was possibly a better plan than mine, but at this point, we will really never know.  My plan became that I didn’t want to deplete my valuable energy stores or irritate any muscle cells until race day.

This proved to be an overestimation of my abilities, and an underestimation of the event.

The next time you hear me mention that I’m going to enter a Spartan race, just hit me in the nuts with a three iron.  My race experience rates somewhere between the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and The Bataan Death March.

I didn’t want to drink water because I thought that without water, I might actually die, instead of having to finish the course.

It started with our group of 200 “Spartans” heading to the mud pit.  Now, maybe I’ve watched a few too many episodes of Monsters Inside Me on TV, but I’m pretty sure that the absolutely foul smelling mud we were forced to plod through has left me with Impetigo at the best, or some brain-eating micro-organism at the worst.

After the mud, we were all in a tight group that narrowed down, until we were pretty much single file.  I was really moving!  I hadn’t jogged since 1997, but I guess that I thought I would just get right back into the swing of things.

Less than a quarter mile in, I was exhausted, and my middle back was aching.  Fortunately, we came to a rock climb that allowed me to rest a bit.  I don’t think that I ever reached jog speed again, but was in more of a fast walk mode, being mindful not to take my eyes off of the shoes or butt ahead of me.  I really have no idea what the course looked like, or where it went.  Just shoes and ass.

I got to one spot where we had to climb a rocky mountain face, and when I glanced to my right, I saw a Bighorn Sheep shaking his head “NO”.  He wasn’t even going to try it.  My lower back and C-spine held up really well for about the first seven minutes of the race, and then a dull ache remained throughout my odyssey.  It really didn’t hinder me much, and the two replaced knees, and the new hip held up perfectly.  They don’t want to bend as much, but there was no pain.  It might be that there was no pain because the brain can only think of one thought at a time, and my burning calves and thighs had my brains full attention.

I flew over walls, under logs, and through stuff.  I pulled chains, moved concrete stones, and picked up a bigass Caterpillar tire.  I helped people over walls and through cargo netting, and navigated more mud pits, barbed wire, and other nonsense.  Where I failed was whenever my arms had to go above shoulder level, I couldn’t get any strength out of my rotator cuffs.  Rope climb, monkey bars, traverse wall, were all my downfall, and I was told to do burpees.  Sadly, my shoulders won’t allow for burpees either, so I will owe about 120 burpees to the Spartan peeps sometime in the future.  Try and collect.

I had an “almost incident” when I couldn’t do a climb, and a snot nosed ”race monitor” started yelling at me that I had to do 30 burpees, and that if I didn’t do them, he would disqualify me.  I said, “Please don’t throw me in the brier patch”, and he just stared at me with a look of utter confusion.  Obviously, another product of the public school system.  When I left, he was fuming.

I obtained a hematoma on my shin, but I am very surprised there weren’t more serious injuries.  I was a little surprised that somebody hadn’t punched the formerly mentioned “snot nosed punk.”  Steep grades, up and down, with loose rocks and falling boulders…yes, I say boulders.  How many races does one run where he hears the words, “Look out, boulders coming down?”

So, you go up to the top of a steep ridge, and then another one after that, and then you are heading home.  I’m beat, but I can see the end is in sight.  Over another cargo net, climb a rope, and pick up sandbags for an up and down carry, and I’m finished!  As I’m dumping the sand bags, looking for the photographers, and television cameras, the closest race monitor yells out “halfway through, keep up the great job.”  Halfway through WTF, halfway through???  The next hill that I had to climb forced me to rest four times before I got to the top.  I think I fell asleep at one point. Then, I get encouragement from a morbidly obese runner chugging up the hill.  Really? Is this what my life has evolved to?  I staggered to the top of the ridge, and crept along it to the next obstacle.  Please bear in mind that for me, an obstacle was a safe haven where I could possibly catch my breath.  I loved the  obstacles!

Finally, with the finish line actually in sight this time, I made a big push, to look as if I had maintained that pace throughout the five miles.  I was very stud-like…still, no cameras or cheers…but stud-like, nonetheless!  I’m across the finish line, and they give me a cheesy medal, a Tee shirt, and a banana.  Then they took my shoes to give to someone in need of shoes.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that these shoes were worn by someone who was passed by the entire cast of Biggest Losers.  I wouldn’t want to wear those shoes, even if I had to go barefoot.  This maybe putting a little more blame on the shoes than they deserved.

The first place guy finishes in just over fifty five minutes.  He was a fine tuned machine, and he pretty much breezed through the course along with a couple hundred more just like him.  Men and women both put on spectacular performances that should make their families proud.  Many of these athletes looked like they were willing to not work so they could stay in the gym and hone themselves for this kind of a sport.

I ask you…What is more impressive?  A person punishing themselves for fifty five minutes while covering this grueling race, or the person who punished himself to near exhaustion and perhaps, near death for…

wait For It…


I knew you would see it my way.  Who is the guy who really gave his all?
And I did it all without shi##ing myself.


Post Script:        

I will only do this again next year if I actually get in shape for it.  Teresa is taking bets on this sore subject, and has so far displayed a somewhat negative attitude as to my ability to get off my duff and really prepare.  The gauntlet has been thrown, and I have a year to get ready.  My goal this year was just to finish, but next year, if all of the stars are in perfect alignment, I plan on shaving at least six minutes from my time.  Looking for team mates, but don’t delay.  Opportunities like this don’t come along very often.


8 Responses

  1. avatar

    That was very entertaining Tom!! What will your team name be? I LOVED your narration, it was as if I was seeing it with my own eyes…Oh yea…I was! I managed to finish though and that was a victory for me!!

  2. avatar

    At least you finished, so hold your head high and be proud.

  3. avatar

    This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read. AROO!

  4. avatar

    OMG,I am laughing so hard at this blogpost. I ran the Spartan Vancouver this past Saturday and oh how I know those thoughts and feelings all too well. I would have thought you were writing my experience down word for word except you didn’t mention the SNOW that was our course. Asthma, severe leg and foot cramps… How soon can I sign up for next years race? And just to make you feel a little better, my time was 2hrs 58min. Thanks for sharing with us :-)

  5. avatar

    What distance was your event? A super?

  6. avatar

    My ill prepared family did the PA spartan last year. Brutal. My husband was the one sitting down every 200 feet. I was the only one that had trained and even that 10 weeks was not enough. I took us just under five hours. Your story sounded like my husbands description of how he felt. Three of us , out of seven, are doing it again in July. Hope this time we can atleast get down to your time. Thanks for the story.

  7. avatar

    Thanks for the laughs Tom ! While I was reading this I laughed out loud several times – and also nodded my head in agreement several times too !

    I’ve already signed up for next year’s local Spartan which, I hope, will motivate me to train a helluva lot harder than I did for this year’s !

  8. avatar

    Ahhh I know exactly how that feels. I wanted to give up after swallowing some Mud water and catching my head band in barb wire. I don’t feel bad now knowing I wasn’t alone in not training. I am signing up for next year’s race and going to train this time and improve on my 1:47 time… but remember you finished and became a spartan! AROOO!!

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